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Once again: no, the proposed voice is not part of a UN land grab

Mikele Syron October 13, 2023

The United Nations (UN) is listed as the executor and trustee of land, titles, deeds and trusts in the 1948 National Citizenship Act.


False. The act concerns citizenship, not lands and titles. There is no mention of the UN as an executor or trustee of Australian land.

It is being claimed that clues to the real motivation behind the Indigenous voice can be found within legislation passed 75 years ago.

Specifically, it is alleged the United Nations (UN) is listed as the executor and trustee of land, titles, deeds and trusts in the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948.

This is false. The Act, as the title would suggest, is concerned with citizenship. It has nothing to do with land and titles and the UN is certainly not listed as having any power or control over Australian land.

The claim, which is the latest to supposedly link the voice with the UN, appears in a Facebook video from an anti-voice rally (screenshot here).

Citizenship Act Check
 The woman in the video claims a UN land grab is underway in Australia. 

“The government cannot be trusted, that’s unanimous, everything they do, and have done for decades,” a speaker at the rally says  (video mark 4mins 50secs). 

“And don’t think that this has just happened, this has been planned for decades: 1940s they unconstitutionally and invalidly treatied with the UN. They then created the National Citizenship Act of 1948. 

“Go and have a look at that Act. Go and have a look under ‘land, titles, deeds and trusts’. Guess who is the executor and trustee? The UN, and that’s what this Section 129 is all about: the UN land grab.”

Section 129 is in reference to the new section to be added to the constitution if the voice is approved.

But it is is unclear what the woman is referring to when she mentions the 1948 Act. The Act does not refer to the UN being the executor or trustee of anything, nor is there any section that refers to “land, titles, deeds and trusts”.

In fact, the first three of those words don’t appear anywhere in the text of the Act.

Professor Gabrielle Appleby, a constitutional and public law expert at UNSW Sydney, told AAP FactCheck the claim has “no legal or factual basis” as the 1948 Act covers an entirely different area: citizenship.

 The 1948 Act had nothing to do with land or property but established Australian citizenship in law. 

“The Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 (Cth) created the legal status of Australian citizenship, as well as the different ways through which that was acquired, and transitional provisions for British subjects resident in Australia prior to its commencement,” she said via email.

Sydney University citizenship law expert Dr Rayner Thwaites said the Act, which was superseded by the Australian Citizenship Act 2007, was primarily concerned with the acquisition and loss of Australian citizenship status, “not with land and property”.

“Why an Act concerned with acquisition and loss of Australian citizenship is believed to have vested property in anyone, let alone the United Nations, is not apparent to me,” he told AAP FactCheck in an email.

AAP FactCheck has previously debunked similar claims relating to the voice and UN (here) as well as various claims about impacts on property and land (see here, here, here and here).

The Verdict

The claim the UN was made the executor and trustee of land, titles, deeds and trusts in Australia under the 1948 Nationality and Citizenship Act is false.

Experts told AAP FactCheck the law established the legal status of Australian citizenship.  It has nothing to do with land or titles.

It certainly doesn’t state that the UN is the executor or trustee of any land in Australia.

False – the claim is inaccurate.

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